Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Owl Award

Transferring to a new place is always hard. I knew it would be hard for me, but I didn't realize the toll it would take on John Russel. The first week or so was exciting for him. The new home and new environment filled with parks and cool wildlife were thrilling. School was good too. He loved the differences and meeting new friends.

Then after a week or two the newness wore off and he realized that he missed his old friends. The new differences weren't cool anymore. They were weird and different. I noticed a change in him and it broke my heart when he said, "Nobody wants to be my friend." I know kids go through this just like we do, but when your normally outgoing child cries and has a hard time adjusting it kills you. I tried consoling him and telling him to just ask the other kids if they want to play. I reminded him to just be himself. We read about the Golden Rule in his little bible story book and I told him to always treat others like he wanted to be treated. He didn't seem to listen or care. I looked at the situation as hopeless. I thought he was just going to have to figure this one out on his own. I felt like the more I said about the issue only made things worse. Then one day I picked him up from school and he was in the best mood goofing off with some boys. He said, "Mom. Today was much better!" That was it. He had snapped out of it. I thought, well that was easy. I guess he did figure it out for himself. He's just as resilient and outgoing as I thought. That was the end of that.

Yesterday as he got in the car after school, I asked him if he had a fun day. He said yes. I asked him what he did, and his reply was "nothing". I took this as a good normal sign. (Information is only shard on his terms) As I was turning out of the parking lot he said, "Oh yeah, I got an Owl Award and two Diamond Back tickets!" He then explained that the award was for being nice and respectful. (His school mascot is, of course, an owl) I told him that was great and then asked him about the other awards his classmates got, assuming that all the children got an award of some kind, being the end of the school year and all. He told me that the others didn't get one. "Just me and Emily," he said. Many questions later and much prying did I find out that the Owl Award is given to students who stand out by displaying good, kind behavior towards teachers and other students. I couldn't contain my happiness. I told him over and over how proud I was of him. When we got home we had to tell everyone who called our good news. He was more excited about the baseball tickets, of course.

I guess he was listening to me after all! Sometimes I talk and talk and feel like the children never hear me. I had assumed that John Russel had found the strength somewhere inside of him and got passed his loneliness. Now I realize that he used that strength along with my loving words and encouragement to turn a difficult situation into something good. He was kind and respectful to others and people noticed. It not only helped him make new friends, he was awarded for doing the right thing. How proud I am of my little "Owl".


selle said...

John Russel!!! WE are so proud of you for getting this award!! You are awesome. I bet everyone at school thinks you are the coolest because you are so nice. It does pay to be nice to everyone - you can never have too many friends.
We love you and Elizabeth will be seeing you soon!! Get ready!
Selle, Tim, Joseph and Elizabeth

Jamie said...

Awe JRUSSEL, I am so proud of you. You are such a sweet boy, I am sure you are making lots of new friends! I miss you and your family!


marthanne said...

As you can see, I'm late joining the blogger response team. I don't know if you go back and read old news stories comments or not, but I just read this one and I must confess I cried. It was so touching! Through your pen I am privileged to get a sneak preview of the wonderful development of character in your family. What a blessing!

John Russel,
I am so proud of you. I hope you framed the Owl award and hung it on the wall in your room! If I come to visit you I would like for you to show it to me! Good job!